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O’Brien & Levine Blog: On the Record

A Legal Interpreter Answers 7 Questions

Beyond relaying the response of a limited-English proficient (LEP) deponent, a legal interpreter must be attuned to culture and idiosyncratic speech.

In an interview with the Journal of Court Reporting, Polish interpreter Agata Baczyk, based in Palm Beach, FL, discusses the nuances of working in concert with a court reporter at a deposition, and ensuring there is no misinterpretation.

Insightful excerpt: “It is important to understand that the goal of the interpretation is not to translate ‘word for word’ but ‘meaning for meaning,’ especially when dealing with language- or culture-specific expressions that do not translate literally.

“People use idioms more frequently than we realize. These generally make no sense when interpreting literally, outside of their original cultures, so instead interpreters must convey the equivalency of meaning. For example, in my experience as a Polish interpreter I have encountered ‘Słoń nastąpił ci na ucho.’ Its literal interpretation is ‘An elephant stomped on your ear.’ What it actually means is, ‘You have no ear for music.’”

O’Brien & Levine arranges interpreters for your proceedings. Call us at 888.825.3376 or 617.399.0130. Or reach us by email. Interpreter and court reporter will be ready to go on the record.

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